Playing pickleball with three players can be a fun variation of the game, though it’s typically played as doubles with four players. In three-player pickleball, one player is responsible for covering both sides of the court, which can be challenging. Here are the basic steps to play pickleball with three players:
- Pickleball court and net.
- Three pickleball paddles.
- One pickleball.
- Set up the pickleball court and net according to the official pickleball rules. Make sure the court dimensions are accurate.
- Choose which player will start as the “Server.” The other two players will be the “Receivers.”
- The game begins with the server standing in the right-hand service box (as seen from the net) and serving diagonally to the receiver on the opposite side of the net.
- The server must serve the ball underhand, below waist level, and hit it diagonally to the receiver’s service box on the opposite side of the net.
- The receiver on the opposite side of the net can return the serve after it bounces in their service box. The receiver can hit the ball directly across the net or aim for the area between the two players on the serving side.
- The server and the receiving player on their side must work together to cover both sides of the court, with the server taking the majority of the court. The receiver should focus on covering any shots that are difficult for the server to reach.
- Play continues with the server serving and the receivers returning the ball until one of the following occurs:
- The ball is hit out of bounds.
- The ball fails to clear the net.
- The ball is hit into the net.
- A fault (such as a foot fault or carrying the ball) is committed.
- If the server or the receiver makes a fault, they lose the serve, and the opposing side gets a chance to serve.
- Continue rotating the serve among the three players, and keep playing until one player or team reaches the predetermined winning score or until you decide to end the game.
- You can use traditional pickleball scoring, where only the serving side can earn points. Play to 11 or 15 points, depending on your preference.
Tips for Playing with Three Players:
- Communication is crucial. The server and receiver on the serving side need to communicate effectively to cover the court and respond to opponents’ shots.
- The player covering the majority of the court should be prepared to move quickly to cover both sides.
- Expect longer rallies as the court coverage may be more challenging with only three players.
Playing pickleball with three players can be a fun and dynamic experience, but it does require good teamwork and adaptability to cover the entire court effectively. Remember to adjust your strategy and positioning as needed during the game.